First Ivy Home Weekend for Baseball
The Games: Dartmouth (4-13, 1-3) vs. Columbia (8-14, 2-2) / Penn (11-10, 4-0)
Location: Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park (2,000), Hanover, N.H.
First pitches: Columbia (DH) — Saturday, April 5 at noon / Penn (DH) — Sunday, April 6 at noon
Series Record vs. Columbia: Big Green lead 102-71
Series Record vs. Penn: Big Green lead 85-80-1
Video: Ivy League Digital Network
Complete Weekend Notes
ICS Rematch, Perfect Penn in Town
This weekend Dartmouth gets a chance to avenge last year’s loss in the Ivy Championship Series with Columbia coming to Red Rolfe Field at Biondi Park for a noon doubleheader on Saturday. The Lions swept the best-of-three series in New York last year, 6-5 in 10 innings and 12-5, then went on to record their first victory at an NCAA Regional.
Sunday brings the Penn Quakers and their perfect 4-0 record in Ivy play to Hanover. The first game will be important as 13 of the last 16 series between these two clubs have ended with a sweep one way or the other.
Last Week in Review
• The start of the Ivy League season began in stuttered fashion thanks to a bit of rain. Dartmouth split a doubleheader at Cornell on Saturday as scheduled, but then had to wait to play at Princeton until Tuesday, when the Tigers swept the twinbill, 3-0 and 4-3.
• The lone Ivy win took 11 innings to decide, thanks to an RBI single by junior Thomas Roulis.
• Sophomore Duncan Robinson earned the win — giving him three of the four Big Green victories on the season — with five innings of one-run relief while fanning five Big Red batters.
• Dartmouth wasted solid starts by sophomore Beau Sulser and Michael Danielak, each of which took losses in complete-game efforts in the seven-inning contests.
• The Big Green suffered a rare home loss on Wednesday to Quinnipiac, 11-5. Since the park was renovated before the 2009 season, Dartmouth is now 67-11 at the facility and 23-2 in non-conference games.
• Sophomore belted his first career home run on Wednesday against Quinnipiac, giving Dartmouth four this season — all solo shots and all coming in the fifth inning.
Last Time Against the Lions
The two teams split four games last year, but Columbia won the more important two when it swept the Big Green in the Ivy Championship Series, 6-5 and 12-5. The first game needed 10 innings to decide the outcome thanks to an RBI single with two outs in the ninth by pinch hitter Ryan Toimil. But those heroics merely delayed the disappointment as the Lions got a leadoff double in the 10th followed by the winning single.
As in the first game of the series, Dartmouth jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second one as well. Columbia battled back, only to have the Big Green retake the lead at 5-4 through six innings. But the Lions exploded for six runs in the seventh and Dartmouth never recovered.
The Overall Record vs. Columbia
• Dartmouth owns a fairly sizable advantage in the all-time series, 102-71.
• This has become a rivalry of late as the two teams have met in the Ivy Championship Series three times in the past six years. The Lions beat the Green in Hanover in 2008, two games to one, and Dartmouth returned the favor in 2010 on Columbia’s home turf. Last year’s showdown went to the Lions one more time.
• Dartmouth head coach Bob Whalen has a 36-20 mark in games against Columbia.
• The Lions have split their four games at Biondi Park, and Dartmouth is 23-17 against Columbia at the site since the field was named in honor of Red Rolfe before the 1970 campaign.
Scouting the Lions
• Dartmouth has had the most difficult schedule to date among the Ivy schools (courtesy Boydsworld.com), but Columbia isn’t far behind having played the likes of South Florida, Texas A&M and Texas.
• Earlier this week the Lions opened league play by shutting out Brown 4-0 twice before dropping a pair to Yale, 3-0 and 4-1.
• Columbia is hitting just .249 as a team (.228 in the four Ivy games), but have three players between .300 and .320 in Nick Maguire, Jordan Serena and Robb Paller.
• Serena is the resident speedster with seven stolen bases, but the Lions overall have only had 11 steals in 20 attempts.
• The pitching staff has posted a 4.77 ERA while holding opponents to a .275 average, striking out 146 and walking 85 in 186.2 innings.
• The bullpen is anchored by RHP Zack Tax with a 1.59 ERA in 11.1 innings, but just four strikeouts.
• In the field, the Lions have averaged about one error a game with a .971 fielding percentage. Shortstop Aaron Silbar is a slick fielder, and catcher Mike Fischer has thrown out more than half the runners trying to steal against him.
Probable Starting Pitchers
• Expect both teams to mimic their rotation from the first Ivy series as Dartmouth will send sophomore RHP (1-3, 5.48) to the mound against All-Ivy first-teamer LHP David Speer (2-2, 5.00). Sulser won his first start of the year but has dropped three straight since, while Speer is coming off a seven-inning shutout of Brown.
• The second game will feature senior RHP Louis Concato (0-1, 2.81), who has posted nearly identical numbers in each of his two starts (6.0 IP, 10 H, 3 runs in each), against RHP George Thanapoulos (2-0, 2.66). He was even more brilliant against the Bears, allowing just two hits over eight scoreless innings to pick up the win.
Last Time Against the Quakers
Penn squeaked out a pair of 3-2 victories over the Big Green in Philadelphia last year as Connor Cuff handcuffed Dartmouth and Michael Vilardo doubled home the two decisive runs in the fifth with a double in the opener to offset a solo shot by Joe Purritano.
In the nightcap, Austin Bossart supplied a sacrifice fly in the ninth to allow the Quakers to walk off with the victory. Kyle Hunter was the tough-luck loser, going the distance while surrendering a mere two earned runs.
The Overall Record vs. Penn
• The Big Green have the upper hand in the all-time series against Penn with an 85-80-1 lead.
• In the past 16 seasons, the Big Green have swept Penn seven times, while the Quakers have won both contests six times with the two sides splitting the series just thrice.
• Coach Whalen is 26-20 against Penn during his tenure, including a 4-2 mark in extra innings.
• With a Dartmouth sweep here two years ago, Penn is 1-3 at Biondi Park and 15-17-1 in Hanover since the Red Rolfe Field dedication before the 1970 season.
Scouting the Quakers
• Penn enters the weekend as the league’s hottest team with seven straight victories and 11 wins in its last 15 games, four of which came against Yale and Brown earlier this week.
• The Quakers have demonstrated the most power thus far with a whopping 23 home runs in 21 games, making them just one of nine Division I teams with more than one per game.
• Jeff McGarry and Rick Brebner have been the most potent hitters at .338 with four homers and .321 with five long balls, respectively, while each has driven in 19 runs.
• No less than 17 pitchers have taken the hill at some point this season, all of whom have combined for a solid 4.17 ERA with 142 strikeouts and 76 walks in 175 innings.
• Rookie left-hander Mike Reitcheck has taken over as the team’s closer with three saves in seven appearances with a 3.68 ERA.
• Defensively Penn has been good with a .973 fielding percentage while turning 15 double plays and allowing just 10 stolen bases in 17 attempts.
Probable Starting Pitchers
• Squaring off in the first game will be a pair of strapping right-handers in 6-4, 215-pound sophomore (0-3, 5.57) and 6-4, 225-pound Connor Cuff (2-1, 1.35). Danielak showed signs of dominance last week, retiring 15 of 16 Princeton players in one stretch, while Cuff has been lights out with a 25-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio and will be looking to replicate his success against the Big Green from last year.
• Wrapping up the weekend will be two rookies — RHP Michael Concato (0-1, 4.32) for Dartmouth and LHP Jack Hartman (3-0, 1.71) for the Quakers. The Big Green righty has been solid in his first two starts, particularly against #18 Kansas against which he allowed two runs over eight innings. Hartman has been even better as opponents have hit just .179 against him.
What’s Up Next
Dartmouth has a couple of weekday tilts outside the league at Boston College on Tuesday and back at home against Holy Cross on Wednesday. Next weekend brings Ivy play within the Rolfe Division with the Yale Bulldogs coming to town for two noon doubleheaders on Saturday and Sunday.
Rare Loss at Home
Since Red Rolfe Field added Biondi Park to its formal name with the renovation prior to the 2009 season, Dartmouth has been near unbeatable at home with a 67-11 record. That 11th loss, however, came on Wednesday when Quinnipiac handed the Big Green an 11-5 defeat. It was just the second time a team outside of the Ivy League had won here in 25 games.
Ruppert is Green’s Hottest Hitter
Sophomore has been swinging the bat well of late, hitting .375 (12-of-32) over the last nine games, with burgeoning power. Both of his doubles came in the final game at Princeton on Tuesday, and against Quinnipiac he launched his first career home run into the netting above the left-field fence.
Junior has played a flawless second base thus far, successfully handling all 80 of his chances in the field. His errorless streak goes back even further than that as he has not booted a ball since his freshman year on April 24, 2012, spanning 138 chances.
Keeping It in the Park
When Quinnipiac hit four home runs in the game on Wednesday, it marked the first time in 123 games a Big Green opponent had hit more than two long balls in one game. The last team was Penn with three round-trippers on April 3, 2011.
Normally an Academic All-American is not associated with thievery, but senior Jeff Keller has been quite successful swiping bases. He has not been caught in any of his seven attempts this season, nor was he caught last year in eight tries. Dating back to his sophomore season, he has stolen 17 straight without being nabbed. The last team to throw him out was Holy Cross almost exactly two years ago on April 11, 2012.
Don’t Weep Over a Sweep
Princeton may have won both games of the doubleheader on April 1 (no fooling!), but it is nothing to cry about. Dartmouth has been swept in at least one Ivy regular season doubleheader in every season since 2010, yet still won the division crown. And in 2011, the Big Green were swept in three twinbills! Granted, they swept the other seven from their opponents that year …
Thanks to an RBI single in the 11th inning at Cornell by junior , Dartmouth has won both of its extra-inning contests in 2014. Success after the ninth inning has been common in recent years as the Big Green have won 10 of their last 13 games that went long, dating back to the start of the 2010 campaign.
Seeking Clutch Hits
The first Ivy weekend ended with Dartmouth losing three of its four games, mainly due to a lack of hitting with runners in scoring position. The Big Green had 43 at-bats in those situations against Cornell and Princeton (11 more than those two had combined) yet managed just six hits for a .140 average. Hopefully sabermetricians are correct in stating that clutch hitting is a function of luck. Dartmouth’s is due to turn …
Doling Out the Pain
Dartmouth pitchers over the past five seasons have been known for stellar control, ranking among the top 15 in fewest walks per nine innings annually. In addition, they haven’t hit many batters, either, plunking just 19 in 2013. The staff this season has not been as cordial, however, having already hit 19 opponents. The last time the Big Green drilled more than 28 batters in a season came in 2009 when they hit 52.